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Monday, 28 April 2014, marked the first day that Moldovan citizens no longer needed visas to travel to Europe’s Schengen area countries. Moldovans celebrated with a concert in the center of Chisinau, while Russia quietly took note of a setback in the increasingly competitive game of strategic citizenship and visa policy in Europe. Russia’s practice of naturalizing Russian-speaking residents of disputed territories such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and most recently Crimea has been met with increasingly successful EU-led “Visa Liberalisation Dialogues” with the countries claiming sovereignty over those territories: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
In Transnistria, where many residents have dual Russian and Moldovan citizenship, the attractiveness of visa-free travel now and the prospect of economic integration with the EU later may eventually normalize the region’s troubled relationship with Chisinau. Such a development would run contrary to Russian interests, especially in light of deteriorating relations between Russia and the EU. Moscow […]

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